Children and Divorce
The Court is required to consider the welfare of any child of the family within any divorce/dissolution proceedings and the effect of divorce on children. This covers any child who has been treated as a child of the family (i.e. step-children and adopted children) irrespective of whether the child is a child of both parties. Children over 16 who are still in full-time education or disabled should be included.
Information is provided to the Court about any relevant children by filing a Statement of Arrangements with the original Petition. This sets out basic information in relation to the children, including where they will live and go to school and how much time they will spend seeing the other parent.
The Statement can be agreed between the parties beforehand. In any event, the Respondent is given an opportunity to respond to the Statement when they file the Acknowledgment of the divorce petition. The papers are then considered by a judge who will consider whether the Court may need to make any Orders in respect of any child. If the judge thinks such an Order may be needed (which is rare) then the divorce/dissolution can be delayed until this is dealt with. The judge can also Order a welfare report, ask for further evidence to be provided or ask the parties to attend before the judge to provide further information.
As with other aspects of divorce and dissolution, this is an area where it is simple to get the paperwork right if you know what you are doing and very easy to get wrong if you do not. If you would like some more information, please see our children section on this website or call us so we can advise you on your next steps.